Summer and it’s been hot and dry. So far, we have had, a much needed, 1.25” of rain over a two-day period. I wish for more rain, but we will have to wait and see. Summer is not always kind to plants.
Plants reseed themselves; some are polite about it while others throw seeds around with abandon. Sometimes you know in advance if a plant reseeds itself, other times you find out after the fact.
When I started my garden six years ago, I fell in love with a chocolate mimosa. A friend mentioned that they are “weedy trees”, throwing seedpods around by the bushel but I thought my CHOCOLATE mimosa was a bit better behaved than just your ORDINARY mimosa. Just to be on the safe side I picked the (few) seedpods before they fell to the ground, but as the tree grew, so did the number of seedpods. Last fall I stood on a ladder, picking off all the pods I could find. A few, very few, fell to the ground – I let them be. This spring I noticed little mimosas sprouting around my tree and around the corner in the front garden. Enough! As the tree was approaching a height beyond which I was confident I could pick off seedpods, and although I liked my tree, it had to go. I brought out my (little) chainsaw and cut down all limbs. The Spouse caught branches as I cut them down and soon my tree was reduced to a trunk with three cut limbs. Come fall I will give it a “flush cut” at ground level and soon you will never know there was a tree there in the first place, or at least I hope it doesn’t resprout from the trunk.
Another plant that had to go was my Mexican feather grass, now botanically known as Nasella tenuissima. I first saw this grass in a picture from Piet Oudolf’s garden in the Netherlands and I loved the soft feathered look of it. I got some seed, grew it, and planted it out in the front garden in spring. Soon the grasses bulked up and they added a sea of movement as the slightest breeze made them sway back and forth. The first year I didn’t really notice the number of seeds, but by year two and three a layer of seed covered the soil around them. Thankfully not every seed sprouted, not even one in a hundred, but with thousands of seed being spilled, I pulled my fair share of new grasses. This spring I started taking out a few bunches, then a few more and then some more. By now I have only four bunches left in two beds, but they will get the heave-ho in fall when it’s time to divide perennials and replant these where the grasses resided.
Meanwhile the memorial garden for my sister is looking positively glorious with bulked up grasses (NOT Mexican feathergrass) and a variety of perennials and annuals. Here I included bright red plume Celosia; an annual plant I bought several years ago for the butterfly garden. Each year spilled seeds from the previous year give me new plants. The reddest ones I keep; reddish-green plants are weeded out. When they move too far into the path, I dig them up and move them back into the garden beds. Last fall I saved some of the seed and started it indoors in winter. Again, the reddest ones I kept; greenish ones were tossed. By now they are growing, although because of the lack of rain, they haven’t reached their full potential yet. By September I will have red highlights poking up through the grasses, mingling with Marigold Kees’ Orange and other perennials. Next year these Celosia will reseed themselves throughout my sister’s garden and surprise me with their locations. Yesterday, making a little side trip to a nursery I came across Verbena Bonariensis, a tall but airy plant which is known to reseed itself. I bought three and put them in my sister’s garden, hoping for a few baby plants next spring.
I removed two plants from the garden because they became a nuisance while two others got prominent spots in the Memorial Garden. Will they politely reseed themselves and fill in empty spots throughout the grasses? Or will I be pulling them out by the handful as I did with my Mexican feathergrass? Only time will tell. If it's the latter, my sister will probably have a chuckle upstairs. She said if I ever found a plant bearing the name 'Truus" it would probably be weedy and run all over my garden. I couldn't find a "Truus" but there still may be something "weedy" in her garden!